Daniel Nielson is taking over as Interim Director of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.
Nielson has led the county's Social Services Department for the past nine years and will also continue in that role while the county searches for a permanent Public Health Department Director.
His appointment to Interim Public Health Director comes with the departure of Dr. Van Do-Reynoso who served as Public Health Director since 2017.
Do-Reynoso is leaving the county for a new job as Chief Customer Experience Officer for CenCal Health, a non-profit community-based health care organization.
As the Public Health Director, Dr. Do-Reynoso worked on various efforts including vaccinating the community against the flu and educating the public about animal control and volunteer opportunities at shelters. She also worked with healthcare providers, community organizations, and business owners to ensure people's access to health care and to make sure regulations are being followed.
Do-Reynoso became the face of the county's public health department during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She reflected on her experience responding to the pandemic of our lifetime and how it has impacted health professionals.
"I think that has taken its toll among public health professionals," she said. "Just the relentless response effort. I can't imagine or I don't recall any response efforts that has taken this long and is still ongoing with no end in sight."
Do-Reynoso says her new position is a culmination of her years in public health and she is excited to start her new job with CenCal Health in August.
"I'll be working in a different arena but I am imagining all the major ingredients that make me happy and just really the opportunity to help my communities will still be there," she said. "I'm gonna miss the people I work with in the Public Health Department."
Do-Reynoso says her new job will allow her to serve both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. She is looking forward to continuing to work on ensuring health equity among the most vulnerable people in the community.